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January 18, 2020
Non-Members (advertising supported) edition
With Chuck Woodbury
hen Gail and I set out on our current RV trip, we didn’t know where we would go. We just decided to leave home and travel for awhile. Our first destination, we knew, would be in central California to spend Christmas with my aunt. But after that? All we knew was we’d keep moving south.
Now, six weeks after we left Seattle, we have made it to Needles, California, close to both the Arizona and Nevada borders. We’ll head out in a few days to Quartzsite, Arizona, to mingle with the crowd at the giant Quartzsite RV Show, perhaps “The most entertaining RV show on Earth” for its cast of characters (the residents of Quartzsite and its visitors). Most RVers who have visited Quartzsite say something like “It’s fun to visit … for a few days.” I’ll write more after we get there.
I must say, I am once again reminded about why so many RVers head to the Southwest for the winter. The temperature today will be 70 degrees. I met a guy from Minnesota in the campground early this morning. The first words out of his mouth were, “It’s minus 9 degrees back home.”
Last night, visiting with RV Travel super readers/supporters George and Joan Bliss from Canada, George told me the temperature at their home had dipped to minus 51 degrees.
At my home near Seattle, it’s been raining and snowing with highs in the upper 30s.
Ask me if I want to rush home. Go ahead! Okay, you don’t need to ask: The answer is no.
Ask the tens of thousands (or is it hundreds of thousands) of other RVers who have swarmed here the same question. You’ll get the same answer.
* * *
Our neighbors last night just pulled out. I noticed one support pole on their Pacific Coachworks Panther trailer’s awning was being help up by duct tape. I asked them if it was defective and had broken. “No, it was my mistake,” said Steven. But then he and his wife Stevie started reeling off horror stories about their recently purchased RV.
The water heater doesn’t work. The fresh water tank leaked shortly after they bought the lightweight trailer. The dealer took more than three months to fix it along with other issues. Siding along the bottom six inches of the rig had ripped off one day on the road.
BUT THE WORST DEFECT involved the outdoor kitchen. Its door opened without notice while they were driving on U.S. 101 along the California coast. It’s a narrow road, and popular with cyclists. The door flipped up from the bottom, so it was sticking straight out on the passenger side of the RV. “We could have decapitated someone on a bicycle,” said Stevie, who had luckily spotted the open door before that happened. They secured the door later by adding an additional lock, as you can see in the photo
“This is by far the worst mistake I’ve ever made,” Steven said, comparing the purchase of this RV to their others through the years.
* * *
JUST TWO DAYS AGO a reader named Alvin wrote me with a plea for help to fix his 2017 RV that he bought from Camping World. “We have been far too patient and want to pursue someone higher in the Camping World organization or Keystone that can get this resolved to our satisfaction. If not, do you know of a great lawyer who is sympathetic to our situation?”
Believe me, his story would make you cry. Basically, his defect-ridden Keystone fifth wheel trailer was unusable. He took it to Camping World for repairs on July 29, 2019, but by Thanksgiving it was still in the shop. Just days before, Camping World had called to inform them an employee had accidentally damaged the trailer. “They said it was just a small tear to the awning fabric,” explained Alvin. “Being concerned, my wife and I went to the location and found that there was body and paint damage and no awning installed and that the inside and outside of our RV was filthy.”
I immediately forwarded Alvin’s email to Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis, who answered me within the hour (to his credit) and said that he would help. But, you tell me, when someone buys an RV — even if its only 5 percent of all RV buyers — aren’t they entitled to a timely repair? Do you think Ford or Toyota would get away with selling a defective car to one out of 20 buyers? They’d quickly go the way of the Yugo (remember that?).
The RV industry needs to clean up its act. I will not shut up about this.
Our readership keeps growing thanks to the financial support of our voluntary subscribers, whose generosity enables us to devote more time building circulation and getting the attention of important people in the industry. Many of them can’t stand me for what I say and won’t give us a dollar of advertising support. The support of our 4,500 paid members is already making a difference. Nothing will change if manufacturers don’t feel heat from consumers to build and better service their products. At RVtravel.com we will never attract enough advertising to pay all our bills.
We are the only website that dares to rock the industry’s boat!
Do you have a defective RV? Tell the world about it at our Facebook group RV Horror Stories. The industry is paying attention.
P.S. We have now posted more than 7,100 articles to this website, and last week we briefly entered the most popular 5,000 websites in America (out of millions), dwarfing all but a handful of large RV companies (like Camping World). We easily topped KOA.com and GoRVing.com, both of which have huge advertising budgets. We have practically none. We just work hard and smart.
Don’t miss tomorrow’s issue when I will have more to say about the “RV Park of The Future” that we wrote about last Sunday (which has been read more than 100,000 times already). As far as being the park of the future … no, it comes up way short of what you and I need.
Finally, do not forget that our RV electrical columnist Mike Sokol will be speaking at the Boston RV & Camping Expo this coming week, January 24-26. If you’re in the Boston area, hop the subway’s Silver Line at South Station and it will take you right there. Tell them we sent you.
Stay tuned: Have you heard the term “Sidewalk Camping?” It’s new. We’ll tell you more later.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
Readers speak out
Stories in tomorrow’s newsletter
• “RV Park of the Future” misses the mark.
• Sales of towables in 2019 were down 6 percent compared to the same time in 2018.
• Love’s Travel Stops plans on adding 40 more stops to its 500 coast-to-coast locations.
• In a traffic accident and need medical care? Check online for “Doctors on Liens” before going through your insurance company.
• The RV Show USA program will have a weekly segment with a representative from Rockwood/Flagstaff trailers, who will respond to reader questions about RVs.
• A Sacramento sheriff’s snail-speed chase is over – and the driver of two motorhomes (one pulling another one!) is under arrest. (With video.)
PLUS: Campground updates • Latest fuel prices • Upcoming RV shows • Latest RV recalls • Free and bargain camping locations • Reader survey • and much more …
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Last week’s featured stories in RV Daily Tips
• Nighttime blackout help for sleep.
• RV boot camps are highly recommended.
• Many reasons to have two-way radios.
• Save water when cleaning “real” dishes while boondocking.
• Warning to would-be full-timers about warranties.
Never buy an RV this way!
Do you think buying an RV and having it delivered to your home or campground is a good idea? Think again. Read here why RV home delivery is probably a bad idea and why we strongly advise against it.
Gas stations face expensive card reader deadline
Planning on “sliding” your credit card when filling up your RV? That won’t last long, as Visa and Mastercard have drawn a line in the sand with gas stations across the country. Come October, all gas pumps that take credit and debit cards will need to accept “chip” cards. Learn more.
Is novice RV buyer being “taken” by dealer? Your input requested
A reader named Esther Jenkins posted this on our RV Buying Advice Facebook group. We believe she (and other RVers) would appreciate your comments. We suspect what she is expressing here is a concern shared by others when buying an RV from a dealership. Read more.
Ha! You have never seen an RV like this
This is just plain weird! Is it even roadworthy? Check it out and leave a comment.
Does raising a trailer’s height void its insurance coverage?
Does raising the height of a travel trailer affect its insurance policy? That’s the question a reader named Irv posted as a comment. We want to know if any RV travel.com readers have come across this situation. Read more.
Last year at this time, these were the most popular articles:
• Dog accidentally changes gears, sending motorhome rolling into lake
• Reader Poll: How many RVs have you owned in your life?
• Carry a gun in your RV or plan to? Watch this! (Video)
• RV Shrink: Couple have heated debate on adding catalytic heater
• RV Doctor: Our bathroom sink P-trap froze!
Do you believe Walmart will still allow free overnight RV parking in five years?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment. We’ll post the final results in next week’s newsletter. CLICK HERE.
Stick no more!
An RVtravel.com reader recommended this white graphite powder as the perfect fix for sticky windows. Frames can contract in cooler weather, making things tight. He said his fix is lubricating the window tracks with a simple “puff” of white graphite powder. Why the white? “It doesn’t make a mess like the black stuff!” he explained.
What we learned about you last week
How do you describe yourself politically? Did you work as a child and, if so, what did you do? What’s the longest you’ve stayed at one time in your RV in one place or park? If you’re in an RV park now, how many “campers” there would you guess are seasonal or long-term? How often do you like to take a shower or bath? Did you read Friday’s newsletter in your RV? All this and more, right here.
Motorhome sideswipes truck. Video captures it all. Ugly!
Watch as a Class A motorhome sideswipes a big rig truck on I-15 in Southern California. The truck had made an emergency stop before the crash occurred. The result is not pretty. Watch it here.
The best way to level a fifth wheel? Make it levitate!
“Ah, look at that, Honey. We’re level!” Do you think these fifth wheel owners had a hard or easy time backing their rig into their spot for the night? We can’t quite decide. Either way, there’s zero tire wear, they’ll have the perfect opportunity to rotate those tires and, hey, they’re completely level. Betcha won’t see such a unique parking job again!
Trashy Quartzsite “ghetto” just keeps on growing
From the Facebook page Quartzsite Happenings with The Adventures of Finius the Skinniest: “A couple months back as I was driving to the claim, a coyote, running across a wash, caught my eye because of the large white garbage bag in his mouth. A little farther down the road I see this [pictures]. It is within spitting distance from town in a ‘DAY USE ONLY’ area. I took pictures, only because I knew they’d leave all that trash. Yesterday, I drove by and the trailer was gone…but the trash stayed.” Read more.
Easily clean those stubborn bugs off your RV
The Microfiber Mesh Bug and Tar Sponge has millions of tiny fibers embedded in the microfiber cloth that grabs and holds the dust and dirt. It is so effective it even cleans without chemicals, saving both time and money. The secret of this sponge lies in its unique, double-layer microfiber mesh. Older nylon bug sponges can harm your clear coat, but this one is completely paint safe. Learn more or order.
Robots roaming aisles at Walmart stores
We know from our reader polls that many if not most of our readers shop regularly or at least occasionally at Walmart. Many visit there while spending the night in their RV in a store parking lot. If that’s you, then maybe you have recently spotted a six-foot robot moving around a store, pausing to do something you didn’t understand. What’s it doing? Find out here.
Tiny pop-up trailer sets up in one minute – amazing!
Tiny is the new trendy, and this new design, the TakeOff, from Dutch startup Easy Caravanning, is no exception to the trend. It’s adorable – how could you not want one? See it here.
The easiest way to seal annoying seam leaks
[Disclaimer: Product review is based on press release.] Seal those seams for the season! (Say that five times fast.) Ever revisit your RV after a long winter and find that your cover didn’t do its job? Or been eating dinner outside and heard drips coming through your awning? Ugh. It happens to the best of us, and it’s not that uncommon. Fabric seams that leak are annoying (and sometimes costly), yet so simple to fix. Find out how here.
Something is fishy about this RV
No, this RV is not sailing the ocean, but you might think so at first glance. We don’t know about you, but the whole scene looks a little fishy to us. Check it out.
Remember to maintain those slide seals!
If you’ve heard a cracking or popping sound when extending your slide outs, it means your seals are sticking and/or drying out! Using a seal conditioner about every 8-12 weeks is recommended to avoid drying and cracking. Once they begin to wear and show damage, they are no longer working to their fullest capacity. We recommend using Thetford Premium RV Slide Out Rubber Seal Conditioner – it works like a charm.
Popular articles from last week
• First-of-its-kind self-service RV park. The wave of the future?
• My rude, noisy neighbor. Good riddance!
• NFL quarterback looking for tips for upcoming RV trip.
• The most stolen vehicles of the year (and the states they’re stolen in).
• No RV sites at this campground — just “glampers” for $149 to $514 a night.
• See wild burros, gunfights and a historic stretch of Route 66.
• Another nomination for “longest RV”.
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, January 11, 2020.
• Video: Historical Airstream – Too bad most RVs aren’t built this way.
• RV Shrink: I feel like I’m being booked into jail when checking into a campground!
• What we learned about you last week (January 4-10).
• RVelectricity: Troubleshooting short circuits – Part 1 of 3: The basics.
• Bet you’ve never seen an Airstream like this.
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Every Monday through Friday you get a short, informational email from us delivered straight to your inbox. Inside each issue you’ll find: quick RV tips, popular articles, reader polls, RV thoughts, helpful resources, a website of the day, RV clubs and organizations, trivia, jokes and more! If you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe, but we doubt you’ll want to. Read the latest issue here and then sign up here.
Our Facebook and RVillage Groups: RV Horror Stories • RV Advice • RV Electricity • RV Parks with Storm Shelters • RV Buying Advice • Northwest RV Camping • Southwest RV Camping • Free Campgrounds plus Texas RV Camping and Florida RV camping. And please join our group on RVillage (like Facebook except just for RVers).
Where to complain about bad RVs, dealers, service, RV parks. This is an ever-expanding list of resources where you can report, share or discuss your problems with RV manufacturers or dealers.
Best Club for RVers: Escapees. Click here to learn more or join. Endorsed by RVtravel.com.
Boondockers Welcome: Camp free at private residences across the country. A very unique, and successful concept.
The RV Show USA
Listen each Wednesday evening on Facebook or YouTube for the live taping of America’s only syndicated radio program about RVing.
The RV Death Spiral
Read the eight-part series of editorials by Greg Gerber that the RV industry never wanted written. Download the PDF.
Motorhomes on Fire
This is not pretty – dozens of videos of RVs burning up. But the point is to help viewers understand that RVs burn fast, and they need to practice good fire-prevention habits and practice an escape plan … just in case.
What does financing an RV for 20 years REALLY mean?
In case you missed this article the first time around, here it is again. Important! Click here.
Save bandwidth while watching YouTube videos
How to watch YouTube videos using very little bandwidth.
Stuck with a lemon RV? Contact Ron Burdge, America’s premier RV lemon law attorney.
It’s winter and those headlights are important!
When was the last time you gave those headlights a good scrub? It’s been a while, huh? Get yourself this 4-piece headlight restorer kit from Turtle Wax for less than $6, and have your headlights looking as good as new in less than 5 minutes. It can be used on all lenses, plexiglass and plastic surfaces, and will restore all dull, yellowed headlights. Learn more or order here.
Ask the RV Shrink
Is documenting RV travels normal? This hubby doesn’t think so
Dear RV Shrink:
My husband thinks I spend too much time documenting our travels. I don’t have a Blog or Vlog, Facebook or Instagram. I just like to document where we have been, what we have done, and anything unusual that might happen along the way. I don’t know why it annoys him so much. It seems very normal to me. Am I odd, or do others do the same while RVing? —Danie in Deming
Ask the RV Doctor
Trailer breakaway switch and inverter questions
One of our readers, and a huge fan of Gary Bunzer and his RV show seminars, has several questions about how a trailer breakaway switch works, what to do with it when the trailer is stored, how his inverter operation may affect the breakaway switch operation, and how the breakaway switch may have an impact on the batteries and brakes. Learn all about it here.
Protect your RV “pigtail” from winter grime
That 7-way connector on your travel trailer or fifth wheel is a critical component. When not plugged into your tow rig, the thing is susceptible to the onslaught of dirt, rain and even bugs. Here’s a plug cover that slips right over your precious plug and keeps out the crud. One user says, “This works perfectly to keep the plug on my RV clear. I remove it when not in use and place it in my ‘RV emergency tool kit.’ This way, it’s not knocked around when driving.” Learn more or order.
Finding short circuits in 12-volt systems, Part 2A
From Mike Sokol: “As promised, here’s Part 2 of my 12-volt DC short circuit tutorial. I’m splitting Part 2 into sub-parts A and B, since there’s a LOT to learn about troubleshooting short circuits, and there’s only so much you can absorb in one sitting. So this is Part 2A.”
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
Higher ground (for your pedestal). A reader is dismayed that in order to get a surge protector into place at the low-to-the-ground pedestal in an RV campground, he had to dig down about a foot at the base of the pedestal. Mike explains why these pedestals are still found in campgrounds, and an easy, and safe, workaround if you have to hook up to one.
Sign up for Mike’s popular and informative RV Electricity group on Facebook.
RV Tire Safety
LT versus ST tires for RV trailers
RV tire expert Roger Marble compares the then-new ST-type tires of the ’70s and their uses then to what is being expected of them as far as performance in today’s very different conditions. He wonders why RVs aren’t supplied with LT tires, and explains why he believes the market could benefit from a switch from ST- to LT-type tires. Learn more.
Inflatable foot rest is comfortable for couch and passenger seat
Now that’s cool! Miss your favorite recliner no more! This inflatable foot rest is perfect for lounging on the couch, in the chair by the campfire, or in the passenger seat for long drives. Take it on a plane ride, or take it to the grandkids’ sports games (we know those can get long). It weighs less than 1 lb. and folds down small for travel. Learn more about this comfy foot rest here.
Building an RV Park
We’ve made some changes!
From Machelle James: “Oh, we have some exciting news to share with you! We had serious concerns about opening up our campground with full hookups or partial hookups. Since Planning and Zoning didn’t like the partial hookup idea, we had to decide which way to go.” Find out what they decided here. [Note from editor: Machelle has a simple but very important request of our readers who might be so inclined.]
The RV Kitchen
Rice and Mushroom Pilaf
Rice is always nice (and easy, too). Instant rice and canned mushrooms come together in a quick side dish that goes with almost anything – chicken from the grill, cube steaks from the skillet, steam-in-the-bag vegetables from the microwave, pot roast from the Instant Pot. Get the recipe.
Speaking of the kitchen… check out some of our reader’s favorite recipes here. We’re drooling!
Refrigerator bars ensure nothing moves while driving
It’s happened to most RVers – you open the fridge (even slowly) after a day of driving and a heavy jar falls on your toe – “Ouch!” Never have that happen again with these easy-to-install spring-loaded refrigerator bars. They’re also useful in cupboards and closets. Order for a good price.
Tax credit for solar panels on an RV?
Question: I installed solar panels on my motorhome in 2019. Does that qualify for the Solar Tax Credit?
The Digital RVer
Let Google Maps deliver food to your door
Chris and Jim Guld were relaxing at home when they started to get hungry. They didn’t feel like cooking and didn’t feel like going out. … She opened Google Maps on her phone and started exploring the restaurants. Within minutes they were enjoying their hot meal at home. But what to do when you’re out RVing? Easy! Chris explains here.
Has anyone used an Indoor tent inside an RV to mitigate cold weather without using a heat source while sleeping? —Judith Brueske
We’ve never heard of that, but who knows? Has anybody out there in RVtravel land done this?
I recently bought a brand-new Ford Transit cutaway and installed an aluminium box on the back with a door on the passenger side. I have not done any configuration inside yet as I want to drive it to a garage to get the box painted. My problem is that I cannot find anybody who will insure the vehicle. Would you have any suggestion on how and where I could get insurance? —Herve Gagnon
Wish we could help you, but we don’t know the answer. We’d love to research this but our staff is already working overtime. Maybe a reader has an answer and can respond in the comment section below.
In your editorial about Needles, Calif., you wrote that if you bought gas in Needles you were ripped off but if you went across to Arizona, a gallon was $2 less. I am not sure that your characterization is completely accurate as it indicates that the gas station was overcharging. While I am sure that a small station in a less populous area gets more for gas than in a larger area, I would imagine that the bulk of the price difference has to do with California gas taxes, not getting ripped off. I think it is important to be accurate and place the cause at the proper door step. —Ralph M.
Needles has always had high prices for as long as I have been coming through, which is decades. Up the road in Barstow, Calif., gas is 75 cents a gallon cheaper. Coming down from Washington through Oregon a few weeks ago, we found prices not much higher there than when we got to California. I realize California taxes force higher prices, but in Needles they really jack them up. And, like I said, the town is right on a major Interstate — not out of the way for fuel delivery. But, in oversimplifying my story I may not have communicated my point adequately. —Chuck
The new 2020 Rand McNally Road Atlas has arrived!
Read more about why you should always have this with you here.
Facebook Groups of Interest
• Only In Your State
• RVING LIFESTYLE -Questions & Answers
• RVers Security & Safety Tips
PLUS OUR OWN GROUPS: RV Horror Stories • RV Advice • RV Electricity • RV Parks with Storm Shelters • RV Buying Advice • Northwest RV Camping • Southwest RV Camping • Free Campgrounds.
Every time you fill your reusable bottle, you keep a disposable bottle out of a landfill. You also save money – you can refill an average reusable bottle with tap water once a day for 10 years, 5 months, and 21 days before it would cost as much as one quart of bottled water. —Source: Zion National Park
Bumper sticker of the week
“Sometimes I wake up grumpy; other times I let her sleep.”
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
Tesco is a big supermarket chain in the UK. Within hours of the news that Tesco’s “all beef hamburgers” contained 30% horse meat (in 2013), these quips hit the Internet (part 3 of 4):
• I hear the smaller version of those Tesco burgers make great horse d’oeuvres.
• Since they’re selling the meat wrapped in plastic, is that technically a “Trojan Horse”?
• Instead of choosing “rare, medium or well done, it’s now Win, Place or Show”
• “To beef or not to beef, that is equestrian.”
—Thanks to George Bliss for these.
“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” —Babe Ruth
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
RV Travel staff
CONTACT US at editor@RVtravel.com
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Emily, Woodbury, Russ and Tiña De Maris. Contributing writers: Mike Sokol, Bob Difley, Richard Mallery, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Machelle James, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
Honorary Correspondents: Loyal readers who regularly email us leads about news stories and other information and resources that aid our own news-gathering efforts.
• Mike Sherman • George Bliss • Tom and Lois Speirs • Alan Warren • Steve Barnes + others who we will add later.
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Everything in this newsletter is true to the best of our knowledge. But we occasionally get something wrong. We’re just human! So don’t go spending $10,000 on something we said was good simply because we said so, or fixing something according to what we suggested (check with your own technician first). Maybe we made a mistake. Tips and/or comments in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of RVtravel.com or this newsletter.
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